Frequently Asked Questions about the Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBA)

  • Q: What is the difference between the Common Core and the SBA?
    A: The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were adopted by Washington State in July 2011. These standards provide a clear and consistent understanding of what students are expected to learn in English language arts and mathematics as they progress through grades K-12. Starting in 2014-15, the SBA are the new state tests aligned to the Common Core. These assessments will be used to measure how well students are mastering the standards and how ready they are for career and college education and training after graduation.

    Q: How is SBA different from current assessments?
    A: SBA is a high-quality system that helps evaluate how a student is doing year-round. The information from the SBA gives teachers specific information about how a student is doing in a particular area and allow for more targeted instruction. Significant improvements include:

    • Writing at every grade
    • New questions types
    • Performance tasks that ask students to demonstrate an array of research, writing, and problem solving skills
    • Computer adaptive technology for more accurate information about student achievement (on-line testing)
    • Quicker results about student progress
    • More accommodations and supports (American Sign Language, closed captioning, Text to Speech, etc.)

    Q: What is the schedule for the SBA?
    A: Please check with your child’s school for specific testing times and dates. The general time frame will be March-May, depending on the grade level.

    Q: Are sample SBA questions available?
    A: Yes. The Practice Test allows teachers, students, and parents to experience a full grade-level assessment and better understand how Smarter Balanced will assess students’ mastery of the Common Core. The Practice Tests mirror the year-end assessment. Click here to take a sample test. Click the sign in button at the bottom, then select the practice test grade and “Yes”.  Then, select the test you want to take (i.e. ELA or Math) and follow the prompts to start the test.

    Q: What can I do to help my child prepare for the SBA?
    A: Yelm Community Schools has been teaching the new, more rigorous standards in English language arts and math. Students have completed sample assessments in class. You can also provide them time to practice using the Practice Tests mentioned above.
    Encouraging your child to get a good night’s sleep, eat breakfast, and do their best is something families can do to support their child.

    Q: How can I get more information about SBA?
    A: To learn more about the SBA and impacts on your students visit the national website. Learn more about the SBA and Common Core standards.